CASH CROP

Lamu county starts plan to revive cotton sector

The county government has bought Sh10 million worth of disease-resilience hybrid cotton seeds from India.

In Summary
  • Back in the 1970s, Lamu was a major cotton producer with the crop being the major cash crop in the region

  • Major cotton producing areas are Mpeketoni,Witu,Hindi, Baharini, Uziwa, Tewe, Hongwe and Wetemere in Lamu West.

The county government of Lamu has embarked on aggressive campaigns to revive cotton farming in the region.

Lamu was a major cotton producer in 1970s, with the crop being one of the major earners.

The cotton growing areas in Lamu are Mpeketoni, Witu, Hindi, Baharini, Uziwa, Tewe, Hongwe and Wetemere in Lamu West.

The crop is also grown on medium scale in Faza island in Lamu East.

Mpeketoni town, for instance, was established majorly for cotton growing only for the sector to collapse years later due to lack of a market. 

Frequent resistant pest invasions were also part of the reason farmers abandoned the crop. 

This week, however, the county government bought Sh10 million worth of disease-resilience hybrid cotton seeds from India.

The seeds will be distributed to cotton farmers to all major cotton producing areas in the region with a view to revive the sector.

Speaking on Friday, Agriculture chief officer Gichohi Mathenge said distribution of the cotton seeds to farmers has started in Mpeketoni, Witu and Hindi areas.

There are over 10,000 cotton farmers in the county. 

“We have procured 4.5 tonnes of hybrid cotton seeds from India at a cost of Sh10 million. The hybrid is disease resilient and we are giving them to farmers free of charge. The objective is to revive the cotton sector," Mathenge said.

He said plans were also underway to establish a reliable market for cotton farmers to encourage productivity and protect them from exploitation by middlemen.

He said the county is working on modalities before starting a Sh100 million cotton ginnery at Sinambio in Lamu West.

The ginnery is expected to improve cotton farming through mechanisation, value addition and marketing.

“A few years back, Lamu produced the best cotton in Kenya. Our agenda is to create an enabling environment for farmers to help them scale up to the next level of the cotton industry and in that sense, we are now focusing on the ginning and garment production,"  Mathenge said.

Farmers expressed gratitude for the resistant seeds but asked the county to ensure they help them find market for their cotton.

“Now let’s pray they help us be able to sell our cotton once we start producing which is going to be in the next few months. In the past, we would be stuck with tonnes of cotton in our stores as there were no buyers," cotton farmer Samuel Mwaura of Mpeketoni said.